Poll of a Billion Monkeys

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Wednesday Religious Assessment 6/27/07

Wednesday Religious Assessment

Pope has Talk with Blair

Next Election

Elizabeth Edwards Goes West

Who Goest There?

Diagnosing Limbo

Gaza Goes to Hell in a Hamasbasket

The Elite View


VATICAN CITY, JUN 27, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father dedicated his catechesis during today's general audience to St. Cyril of Jerusalem (ca. 315-387), whom he described as a bishop of a great "ecclesiastical culture, centered on the study of the Bible." The general audience, Benedict XVI's hundredth, began with his greeting pilgrims in St. Peter's Basilica, then continued in the Paul VI Hall. It was attended by around 7,000 people.

Cyril, the Pope explained, was consecrated a bishop in 348 by Acacius, metropolitan of Caesarea in Palestine and a supporter of Arianism. However, soon afterwards the two men came into contrast, "not only in the doctrinal field, but also in the area of jurisprudence, because Cyril claimed the autonomy of his see from the metropolitan see of Caesarea." He was exiled thee times and only in 378, following the death of the emperor Valens, could Cyril return to his see, "restoring unity and peace among the faithful." Of this saint we have his "Catecheses," 24 catechetical lectures introduced by a prologue.

"Catechesis," the Holy Father explained, "was an important moment, inserted into the broad context of the entire life - and especially the liturgical life - of the Christian community" where "the future faithful were gestated, accompanied by the prayer and witness of their brethren. This was a very important moment, it was not just an intellectual catechesis, but a way of learning to live in the Christian community. As a whole, Cyril's homilies constitute a systematic and pragmatic catechesis on the rebirth of Christians through Baptism."

From a doctrinal point of view, Cyril uses his work - through "a 'symphonic' relationship between the two Testaments" - to reach "Christ, center of the universe." In his moral catechesis, he invites people "to transform pagan forms of behavior on the basis of the new life in Christ." In his "mystagogic" catechesis, he brings the newly baptized "to discover the hidden mysteries ... contained in the baptismal rites."

"The mystery to be understood is the design of God which is accomplished through the salvific action of Christ in the Church. The mystagogic dimension is, in turn, accompanied by the dimension of symbols which express the spiritual experience they bring about."

"This is, then," the Pope concluded, "an integral catechesis which - involving body, soul and spirit - remains emblematic for the catechetical formation of Christians today. Let us ask the Lord to help us understand a Christianity that truly embraces all of our existence and makes us credible witnesses of Christ, true God and true man."
AG/CYRIL OF JERUSALEM/... VIS 070627 (440)

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Civil War

The Exchange - Civil War

Since my daughters are homeschooled we have been watching the Ken Burn's documentary about the Civil War over the past two weeks as part of our study of history. That documentary is my favorite documentary and I've seen it three of four times since I saw the original broadcast.

But watching it this time with my daughters two things struck me as they never have before. First I was struck by the fact that despite having grown up in the South and lived here most of my life and dearly loving this part of this country of mine I am more certain than ever before that I would have gone north to Yankeedom to fight for the Union in that particular war. My religious and even my political convictions would have probably rendered any other outcome impossible. Certainly very unlikely. Even as a small boy I remember thinking I would never fight for any cause which threatened another man's enslavement. That being said I am still to this day amazed however by how mediocre, even disastrous, was the military leadership of the North in general, and yet how tremendous the political leadership of the North in particular. And yet with the South all things were as reversed. Their military leadership was little short of brilliant and their political leadership hardly worth the mentioning. An Army of giants built upon a government of misshapen and dwarfish, petty ideals. It makes me wonder if this was not as it was always meant to be. The world is as it is because they were as they were. It is hard, very hard, for me to imagine that war, as it was conducted, as it was concluded, not being as surely foreordained as the Birth of Man himself. Indeed it was a kind of Rebirth of America, if not even of Man himself, as a new thing. War is such a very strange thing, that washes away all of our past sins in a bath of blood to cleanse us and make us ready for the sins of tomorrow. It is like a womb of wrong we must begrudgingly inhabit, and yet without it the day of new life never comes. Tomorrow is never born.

The second thing that struck me this time, really struck me - like a hammer blow to my skull - was how much of all we are today was foreshadowed in that war. Battleships, a more true and just Republican democracy, mass communications and transport, concentration camps, warfare against civilian populations and terrorism, lightning attacks, modern espionage, modern cities and industry, guerilla and unconventional warfare, the machine gun, vast leaps forward in all kinds and varieties of technology, political reform, modern civil rights, political corruption and reform, leadership a century ahead of time, leadership centuries behind the times, and the incredible, if not outright suicidal bravery of the American soldier embarked upon that cause he and his leaders feel is just enough to fight for. It is hard to see the American soldier of the Second World War and the modern American combatant in Afghanistan and Iraq and not see him outlined in the Soldiers of the campaigns of the Civil War. That war, like many wars, but that war especially and in particular, just as with the Second World War, was a prophecy and harbinger of things to come which I doubt very seriously that we will escape before the turn of the next century, or beyond. If ever.

If history is a stream which never runs dry then the Civil War was truly the Mississippi of our nation's capital frontier. And an omen for the world to come.
It is like visiting the graveyard of your ancestors only to discover that those ghosts never stayed aground, but wander around you still, their burial more a memory
than a fact.

Anyway, it was a graveyard worth revisiting, and a memory worth the disinterment.


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Monday, June 11, 2007

The Exchange - No Dummy, No More…

The Exchange - No Dummy, No More…

What, exactly, to make of this story?
I can’t tell you, and in one sense I couldn’t care less.

While a good cross section of American popular culture and media has been both enamored of and entirely engrossed within the bounds of this silly story, I basically agreed with the statement posted by Hilton’s spokesman (whoever that might be) which basically concluded that, “much more important things are occurring in the world.”

Amen, brother, or sister. A helluvah lot more important.

And while I suspect Paris Hilton is no genius (nor am I the kinda person who thinks genius is the most important human quality or trait anyhow, but it is often better than the alternative), just from looking at her, I had assumed she was not nearly as stupid as her obvious public pretense. I just thought she was a gawky, frightened, somewhat ill mannered (but that problem really lies at the feet of her parents), naive, clumsy, likely arrogant (ditto the parents) little child. I don’t understand why that is important (in any respect); such kids are a dime a dozen in modern America, as much of a viper’s nest of self-absorbed, juvenile, not terribly bright, little narcissistic freaks as this nation currently and consistently produces through sexual union (though I’m hoping to God that will be changing pretty soon with the still younger generations). In other words Paris Hilton is common currency in America, she’s just more uncommonly common in her public persona than most.

But while visiting a message board I saw the article above and clicked on the link to see exactly what the girl had said and to try and decipher exactly what she might possibly mean.

Now I don’t take people at their word, unless I know them extremely well and have good evidence accrued over a long period of time and personal interaction that their word has some value beyond the decibel count and vapor cloud by which it is transmitted. And I’m also aware that many people say exactly what they wish, and sometimes even accidentally and lightly intend, when faced with pressures exerted by forces beyond their immediate control.

Does this chick mean anything she says?
Who knows? I don’t.

I don’t know this gal from Eve or Little Orphan Annie.

But assuming she is serious, even for just a moment, then maybe this is a story of personal redemption (how far it will go and how long it will last, again, who knows?) of the old fashioned kind.

And if it is, and that is a big if, then, go ahead girl. I won’t try and stop you.
Go ahead, repent, and redirect yourself. It’s no skin off my teeth and may even add life to yours. Your skin that is.

And thank the Judge who helped put you in the spot where you were faced with no other choice but to confront your past mistakes and find some method of correcting those juvenile personality traits you’ve previously vomited forth in great profusion, because contrary to those sycophants hovering around you, he gave you good for evil instead of telling you that whatever you do is good. Which is the kind of thing you tell a fool. So, maybe he thought he saw something more than a fool in you, and maybe he was right. Time will tell I reckon.

I can’t say I like you of course, because I don’t know you, I can’t say I think you’re a great looking gal either (you’re awfully skinny and stick-like for my tastes, you might try eating better), I can’t say that part of me isn’t really enjoying your plight, but I can say this, if you change, if you are sincere, then God be with you little girl and you’ll have my best wishes and even my occasional prayers. If you do learn, then learn, learn well, and remember long. Then make use of that.

Be as great and famous a young woman as you can be and not just a woman seeking greatness through fame.

You got your punishment, use it for something worthwhile, exploit this situation for the good of your own soul, and not just for the good of your brand, and one day you might even be good for somebody other than yourself.

Not that you care about my opinion, should care about my opinion, will ever read this, or need my advice and counsel.

But in any case if you are now on the right path then stay there, prosper, thrive, and do good as well as merely doing well.

And if you do then maybe this will be an important story after all.
We’ll see…

© JWG, Jr. 2007